Thursday, July 5, 2012

Introducing Jorge Lopez!

My name is Jorge Lopez. I am in the biology faculty at Santa Ana College in California. I am also a long time marmoteer. I worked with Dan Blumstein on his golden marmot research 20 years ago. In the intervening years, I took a detour to study parasite ecology and evolution. Dan has been collecting data on the parasites of the marmot population at RMBL for nearly a decade. I am exploring these data looking at relationships between parasite prevalence and colony size. It seems that living in a large colony may have a downside, at least with respect to one of the parasites that infects yellow bellied marmots.

I am also helping with the day-to-day marmot observations and trapping. Especially now that the pups have emerged, it is fun to watch them playing and exploring their world. It takes a bit of concentration to keep eyes on the marmots though; the surrounding scenery can be distracting.

I can’t help but compare our current marmot work with the work Dan and I did with the golden marmots. The marmots are a bit different, of course, but the biggest different is the location. RMBL is deep in the Rocky Mountains, but it’s not nearly as remote and isolated as the golden marmot study site in the mountains of northern Pakistan.

I’m glad I don’t have to rely on shepherds to deliver mail at unpredictable intervals, listen to the news on a short-wave receiver, or wake up to 0F temperatures at 5 in the morning. 

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